Friday, 31 July 2009

A shaft of light before nightfall

The last day of July, and what a day we've had of it - rain from dawn until just before 9pm! Not exceptionally hard, often not more than a light drizzle, but unremitting. Even before today's rain, reports suggest this will be the wettest July since recording began in some places in Ireland. The third wet summer in a row.

Susanna continues to do well, and has today moved back to her own side of the bed, but I am still on cooking duty. A warming supper was what we needed: tagliatelli with meat balls in a tomato sauce. I ventured out for sage and a couple of bayleaves and came back dripping. A good flavour, though I say it myself, but most of the meatballs disintegrated into the sauce - another dish I haven't cracked yet, another challenge for the future!

Then as we ate, the clouds began to clear, bringing a shaft of sunshine from the West straight into my eyes. Knowing my shoes will be drenched in the wet grass, I am drawn out into the garden for the first time today.

I am reproached by the sodden piles of clippings from the Beech and Eleaganus hedges which I failed to collect yesterday before the rain began - please God tomorrow will bring a window to finish the task. I skimped on the Eleaganus this spring, and to get it straight I had to cut part of it back to bare wood, which I believe, fingers crossed, will sprout again. And once that's done, the evergreen oak (Quercus ilex) hedge by the road needs its annual trim - it is gradually creeping out and constricting the path.

The air is filled with flights of swallows, swooping low - several dozen over the garden, perhaps a hundred. On a dry day their cries fill the air, but this evening they are almost silent. I suppose the rain has prevented their feeding, and they are too hungry to waste energy on singing. They need to stuff themselves with insects to build up the energy reserves they need to return safely to sub-saharan Africa in a few short weeks. This wet weather must be a real threat to their lives.

I suppose the wet is good for my vegetables. I have never had such good brassicas - Brussels sprouts, Purple-sprouting broccoli and green Romanesco - though perhaps the barrow-loads of compost rotivated into their bed has something to do with it. And the climbing beans - Scarlet runners and three kinds of French beans, planted rather late - are close to the top of their poles. No trouble from the hares this year. We will be eating them in 10 days, but Susanna's dwarf beans started in pots in the conservatory have been cropping since early July. The rain has also suppressed bolting of the spinach beet, which we have been eating and giving away, and threatens to get away from us. Susanna's peas in the raised bed are a disappointment - I'm not sure why, but suspect they may be getting too little sun. And the potatoes are poor and showing the early signs of blight - I must dig them while I can, and perhaps I can get a late crop of peas from the ground too.

The wet must be good for the flowers too. Susanna's sweet peas continue to bloom their socks off - she has been able to get out to cut the seed pods, even though crutches prevent her from cutting bunches for the house. The Lobelia cardinalis, spared by the slugs this year, is about to burst. And the blue Agapanthus from South Africa is following on from the day-lilies and better than ever. The wonderful blue of Salvia patens has been joined by the slightly deeper blue of S. cacalifolia and day-glow pink Zinnias at the front of the croquet-lawn border, the first sunflowers at the back have opened butter yellow and copper, and the Dahlias are about to begin. S. uliginosa and S involucrata 'Bethelii' both survived last winter outdoors and promise to perform later on.

I made the mistake of reading the blogs commenting on the US Episcopal Church's recent General Convention and Archbishop Rowan Williams' reflection on it. The hatred and bile displayed by so many commentators is disgusting. Our Lord said (John 13:34-35), "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." If love is the test of discipleship, where may we find disciples today?


Daniel & Sonja said...

Hi Joc, I pray that the sun will come out for you soon...

Joc Sanders said...

Daniel, thanks for your prayer, which has worked in double-quick time - the sun is shining now and I see white butterflies going about their business!

'He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust', says Jesus.